A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Dubai vs. Shanghai for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Couples

Should you visit Dubai or Shanghai?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Dubai and Shanghai can help you decide which place is right for you.

Dubai

Dubai is a glamorous, opulent, and modern city. With plenty of activities and things to do, it's a huge city that draws plenty of visitors. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the live music, food, and scuba diving and snorkeling.

Shanghai

Shanghai is a modern, cosmopolitan, and professional port city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Dubai and Shanghai: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
Cons
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
Cons
  • Less popular for nightlife


How is Dubai different from Shanghai?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Shanghai and Dubai. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Dubai or Shanghai Better for Museums and Historical Sights?

Dubai
Shanghai

You'll find a number of museums and attractions in both Shanghai and Dubai.

Many visitors head to Dubai specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. The city's most famous landmark is the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world. Head to the observation deck for stunning views.

Visitors will find world class museums and historical sights in Shanghai that are not to be missed. The city's sights mix culture with modern innovation. From the futuristic skyline and the iconic waterfront area known as the Bund, to the classic Yu Garden, there are a diversity of sights around the city. There are also museums like the Shanghai Museum, which educate visitors on Chinese culture.


Is Dubai or Shanghai Better for Food?

Dubai
Shanghai

Foodies will find both Dubai and Shanghai both to be unique destinations.

Dubai has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. The national dish in the area is khuzi, or ghuzi, which is a meal of roasted lamb or mutton, prepared with rice vegetables and nuts.

Known for it's food and restaurant scene, Shanghai is always at the top of any foodie's travel list. The city's cuisine has a long history with many distinct traditional dishes. The foods incorporate a lot of soy sauce and sugar and you'll find most dishes are rice based as opposed to using wheat products. Popular local dishes include the famous Shanghai soup dumplings, steamed crab, and braised pork. The city is also famous for its snacks, which can be purchased at one of the many snack houses or street stalls.

Is Dubai or Shanghai Better for Nightlife?

Dubai
Shanghai

Most visitors prefer the nightlife in Dubai.

People head to Dubai just to party. Frequented by the wealthy and opulent, the city has world class night clubs and DJs that travel from around to world to perform.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Shanghai. A night out can quickly become very expensive. Many of the venues are spread out so you'll likely spend at least some of the time in a taxi. The Bund is one of the most popular areas for nightlife, but this area also has the most expensive bars and clubs. They often offer impressive views of Pudong and the Huangpu River though.

Is Dubai or Shanghai Better for Shopping?

Dubai
Shanghai

If you're looking to go shopping, Dubai and Shanghai both offer plenty of spots.

Many people travel to Dubai specifically to go shopping. With its many malls, souks, and shopping areas, this is the place to go for luxury shopping. Popular items to purchase include gold and diamond jewelry, shawls, and Persian rugs.

Shanghai is a famous shopping destination with plenty of stores. The city has many large shopping malls with department stores, name brand fashion, and trendy shops. It is also known for its cheap electronics and tailor-made clothes.

Is Dubai or Shanghai Better for Families?

Dubai
Shanghai

You'll find kid-friendly activities in either Dubai or Shanghai.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Dubai. This city has family-friendly resorts, skyscrapers with spectacular views, and amusement parks that are fun for the whole family. There are also plenty of fountains that the kids can splash around in.

Shanghai is a very family-friendly place to visit. Of course there's Disneyland, but kids will also enjoy soaking up the city's culture, trying fun new snacks, and exploring the many science and kid-friendly museums. There are also parks and outdoor spaces as well as skyscrapers and towers that offer incredible views of the city.


Is Dubai or Shanghai Better for Couples?

Dubai
Shanghai

Couples will find a longer list of romantic activities in Shanghai than Dubai.

For those traveling as a couple, Shanghai has plenty to offer. With its east meets west personality, couples will be able to enjoy an amazing culinary experience, beautiful gardens, and luxury hotels and spas. There are many romantic areas around this bustling city, making it the perfect place for a romantic city getaway.

Dubai is a nice destination for couples. From the spectacular views to the high end resorts, couples can enjoy a romantic retreat to the city.

Is Dubai or Shanghai Better for Students?

Dubai
Shanghai

For students, both Dubai and Shanghai are fairly comparable places to visit.

Students come from all over the world to visit Dubai. Many major universities from around the world have campuses in this city, making this a top destination for international students.

Shanghai is a great city to visit as a student. The city attracts international and study abroad students who enjoy its long history and fascinating culture. It's a world financial capital with many businesses headquartered here, so employment opportunities are abundant.

Is Dubai or Shanghai Better for Public Transit?

Dubai
Shanghai

Dubai and Shanghai both offer public transit to get you around.

While Dubai offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. The city's public transportation system includes buses, water buses, a monorail system, and a metro.

Many visitors rely on the effecient and affordable public transportation in Shanghai. There is a metro system as well as buses and taxis which are relatively affordable.

Is Dubai or Shanghai a more walkable city?

Dubai
Shanghai

Shanghai is more walkable than Dubai.

Shanghai is a very walkable destination. It's possible to explore the major tourist areas on foot but it can be very hot and humid during the summer months.

Dubai is generally not very walkable. It is one of the less pedestrian-friendly cities around the world. There is lots of road work, even in the more walkable areas, so getting around on foot can be challenging.


Should I spend more time in Shanghai or Dubai?

How long in Dubai or Shanghai?

In either Dubai or Shanghai, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Dubai than Shanghai because of the overall number of sights and activities.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Dubai is 3-7 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Shanghai is 2-5 days.


  • How many days in Dubai or Shanghai? Ideal Length of Stay
    Dubai 3-7 
    Shanghai 2-5

One day in Dubai or Shanghai?

Dubai is a big city with plenty to do. It's also a relaxing resort destination. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

In Shanghai, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this bustling big city offers. This port city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

A weekend in Dubai or Shanghai?

Dubai is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Shanghai. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Dubai or Shanghai?

Dubai is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Dubai, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Shanghai is a fun place to experience. In Shanghai, many people enjoy the nightlife and food that this big city destination offers. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.

A week in Dubai or Shanghai?

Dubai is a great place to explore. It is common to spend one week here. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. One week is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Dubai has to offer. This city offers something for everyone.

You'll find food and shopping around the trendy big city of Shanghai. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Which city is cheaper, Shanghai or Dubai?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Dubai is $198, while the average daily cost in Shanghai is $93. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Dubai and Shanghai in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Dubai $136
    Shanghai $65
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Dubai $272
    Shanghai $130
Compare Hotels in Dubai and Shanghai

Looking for a hotel in Dubai or Shanghai? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Dubai


Hotels in Shanghai


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Dubai Hotel Prices and Shanghai Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Dubai $10
    Shanghai $3.13
Typical Local Transportation prices in Dubai

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Dubai:


  • Taxi Ride
    $12
  • Airport Taxi
    $12
  • Sea Taxi
    $0.54

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Dubai

Also for Dubai, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Ultra - Dubai Private Airport Transfer from city centre to Dubai Airport DXB: $8.73
  • Ultra - Dubai Private Airport Transfer from Dubai Airport DXB to city centre: $8.73
  • Ultra - Dubai Private Airport Transfer from Dubai Airport DXB to Jumeirah Beach: $8.73
  • Ultra - Dubai Private Airport Transfer from Jumeirah Beach to Dubai Airport DXB: $8.73
  • Shared Transfers from Dubai Hotels to Ski Dubai/Wild Wadi: $15
  • Private Airport Transfer: from Dubai to Dubai Airport (DXB): $17
  • Private Airport Transfer: Dubai Airport (DXB) to Dubai: $17
  • Private Transfer to/from Dubai Airport (DXB): $17
  • Shared Transfers from Dubai Hotels to Dubai Frame: $18
  • Shared Transfers from Dubai Hotels to Aquaventure/Lost Chamber: $18
  • Sharing Transfers from Dubai Hotels to Dubai Mall (Burj Khalifa, VR Parks, DAUZ): $18
  • Shopping Tour with Sharing Transfers: $19

Typical Local Transportation prices in Shanghai

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Shanghai:


  • Taxi Ride
    $3.62
  • Two Subway Tickets
    $0.84

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Shanghai

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Shanghai:

  • Private Day tour of Xi'an From Shanghai Including Transfer Service: $1,100
  • Private Mutianyu Great Wall Tour From Shanghai's Hotel Including Transfer: $1,100
  • Private Beijing One Day Tour From Shanghai 's Hotel Including Transfer Service: $1,036
  • Private Day Trip Of Xi'an From Your Shanghai's hotel Including Transfer Service: $1,000
  • Private Day Tour Of Beijing From Shanghai's Hotel Including Flight And Transfer: $1,000
  • 2-Day Huangshan Tour by Cable Car with Private Transfer and Lunch from Shanghai: $653
  • 3 Days Shanghai Suzhou Tour Package with Airport Transfer: $555
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Yiwu Per Vehicle Price: $388
  • Shanghai Luxury Airport Transfer: $332
  • Transfer from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Nantong Downtown Per Vehicle Price: $265
  • Shanghai Disneyland with Transfers Plus 2-Night Accommodation in 4-Star Hotels: $264
  • Super High-End Luxury Private Transfers Between City and Shanghai Airports: $240

Is it cheaper to fly into Dubai or Shanghai?

Prices for flights to both Shanghai and Dubai change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Dubai $45
    Shanghai $17
Typical Food prices in Dubai

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Dubai:


  • French bread
    $0.95
  • Sumo salad in Dubai Mall + Juice
    $10
  • Lemon Mint Tea
    $4.36
  • Coffee & Cake
    $6.53
  • Smoothie
    $5.45
  • Shawarma
    $1.91

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Dubai

For Dubai, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Romantic Dhow Creek Dinner Cruise With Live Shows and International Buffet: $17
  • Sightseeing Dhow Cruise Dinner: $18
  • Dubai Deira Cruise with International Buffet Dinner with Live Shows: $19
  • Cruising with Dinner and Live Shows at Dubai Creek: $20
  • Dubai Creek Dhow Cruise Dinner: $20
  • Dhow Dinner Cruise at Dubai Creek (Without Transfers): $20
  • Sail along the Dubai Creek Dhow cruise with a delectable Dinner from AED 60: $21
  • Sightseeing Romantic Dhow Cruise Dinner: $21
  • Dhow Cruise Dinner Dubai: $22
  • Dhow Cruise Dinner on Dubai Creek: $22
  • Evening Dhow Dinner Cruise in Dubai: $22
  • Dubai Creek 2-Hour Romantic Dhow Cruise Dinner: $23

Typical Food prices in Shanghai

Some typical examples of dining costs in Shanghai are as follows:


  • Dumpling Breakfast
    $1.39
  • Desserts in Jinmao Building Observatory
    $20
  • Ajisen Lunch for Two
    $7.25
  • Cantelope
    $1.67
  • Dumplings and Soup
    $2.09
  • Duck Dinner
    $4.18
  • Pastries
    $2.93
  • Barbeque Dinner
    $8.92

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Shanghai

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Shanghai.

  • Online Chinese Cooking Class: $22
  • Old Shanghai Breakfast Food Tour: $52
  • 3-Hour Shanghai Summer Night Local Dinner and Shopping Private Tour: $65
  • Private Chinese Cooking Class in Shanghai with Vegetarian Option: $69
  • Private Authentic Chinese Cooking Class in Shanghai with a Lovely Local: $70
  • 3-Hour Shanghai City Walking Tour with Dinner: $74
  • Shanghai yummy food tour: $75
  • A Bite of Shanghai Small-Group Food Tour: $80
  • Shanghai Hairy Crab Dinner: $85
  • Shanghai Evening Food Tour/Shanghai tour gastronomico nocturno: $85
  • Night Market & Street Food Tour in Shanghai: $95
  • 3-Hour Flexible Private Shanghai Night Tour with Local Dinner Option: $100

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Dubai $15
    Shanghai $6.80
Typical Entertainment prices in Dubai

For Dubai, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Visit to the Dubai Museum
    $0.82

Tours and Activities in Dubai

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Dubai.

  • Global Village Entry Tickets: $4.11
  • Dubai Full-Day Global Village Tickets: $4.11
  • Global Village Entry Ticket: $4.19
  • Skip the Line: Global Village Ticket: $4.32
  • Global Village Dubai (Ticket): $4.85
  • Dubai Global Village Entrance Ticket: $5.20
  • Dubai Marina: Explore its activities & attractions on this audio walking tour: $5.50
  • Ethnic Emirati Dining Experience: $12
  • Resident Marina Sightseeing Tour: $12
  • Dubai City Tour, Dubai: $12
  • Dubai Virtual City Tour With Live Video Chat Commentary: $15
  • Flying Cup Experience Ticket Dubai: $17

Typical Entertainment prices in Shanghai

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Shanghai are as follows:


  • 30 Minute River Cruise for Two
    $28
  • Zoo for Two
    $14

Tours and Activities in Shanghai

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Shanghai are as follows:

  • 1 Day Bus Tour in Amazing Shanghai Highlights: $113
  • 1 Day Hangzhou Private Tour: $312
  • 1 Day Shanghai Airport Layover Private Tour for City Highlights: $202
  • 1 Day Shanghai Highlight Small Group Tour: $124
  • 1 Day of Shanghai Premiere Experience: $730
  • 1 day Nanjing tour from Shanghai by train: $400
  • 1 day Shanghai City Mini Group tour: $92
  • 1-Day Authentic Shanghai Tour by Walking & Metro: $193
  • 1-Day Private Shanghai City Tour to See Its Past, Present and Future: $204
  • 1-Day Private Shanghai to Wuzhen Tour to Admire the Classical Water Town: $271
  • 1-Day Private Tour to Hangzhou by car from Shanghai: $305
  • 1-Day Private Tour to Shanghai Museum,Yu Garden, the Bund and Nanjing Road: $178

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Dubai $18
    Shanghai $5.94
Typical Alcohol prices in Dubai

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Dubai:


  • A Couple Drinks
    $25

Sample the Local Flavors in Shanghai

Also in Shanghai, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Shanghai Luxury Bar Crawl in 5-star Hotel or Boutique Hotel: $255
  • 3 Hour Local Craft Beer Crawl with Brewery Tour: $350


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Dubai and Shanghai, we can see that Dubai is more expensive. And not only is Shanghai much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. Since Dubai is in Middle East and Shanghai is in Asia, this is one of the main reasons why the costs are so different, as different regions of the world tend to have overall different travel costs. So, traveling to Shanghai would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Shanghai and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Dubai would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Dubai than you might in Shanghai.


When is the best time to visit Dubai or Shanghai?

Shanghai has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, but Dubai experiences a tropical climate with fairly warm weather most of the year.

Should I visit Dubai or Shanghai in the Summer?

Both Shanghai and Dubai during the summer are popular places to visit. Dubai attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and tropical climate. Furthermore, most visitors come to Shanghai for the city activities and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

Dubai can become quite hot in the summer. In July, Dubai is generally a little warmer than Shanghai. Temperatures in Dubai average around 35°C (95°F), and Shanghai stays around 28°C (83°F).

Shanghai gets a good bit of rain this time of year. Dubai usually gets less rain in July than Shanghai. Dubai gets 10 mm (0.4 in) of rain, while Shanghai receives 128 mm (5 in) of rain this time of the year. June to August is the dry season in Dubai.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Dubai 35°C (95°F) 
    Shanghai 28°C (83°F)

Should I visit Dubai or Shanghai in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Dubai and Shanghai. The warm tropical climate attracts visitors to Dubai throughout the year. Furthermore, the autumn months attract visitors to Shanghai because of the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

Dubai is much warmer than Shanghai in the autumn. The temperature in Dubai is usually 29°C (84°F) in October, and Shanghai stays around 19°C (65°F).

In October, Dubai usually receives less rain than Shanghai. Dubai gets 10 mm (0.4 in) of rain, while Shanghai receives 61 mm (2.4 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Dubai 29°C (84°F) 
    Shanghai 19°C (65°F)

Should I visit Dubai or Shanghai in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Dubai as well as Shanghai. Plenty of visitors come to Dubai because of the warm tropical climate that lasts throughout the year. Additionally, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Shanghai this time of year.

It's quite cold in Shanghai in the winter. In the winter, Dubai is much warmer than Shanghai. Typically, the winter temperatures in Dubai in January are around 19°C (66°F), and Shanghai is about 4°C (39°F).

Dubai usually gets less rain in January than Shanghai. Dubai gets 10 mm (0.4 in) of rain, while Shanghai receives 39 mm (1.5 in) of rain this time of the year. January to March in Dubai is the rainy season.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Dubai 19°C (66°F) 
    Shanghai 4°C (39°F)

Should I visit Dubai or Shanghai in the Spring?

Both Shanghai and Dubai are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Dubai attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and tropical climate. Also, many travelers come to Shanghai for the activities around the city and the natural beauty.

In April, Dubai is generally much warmer than Shanghai. Temperatures in Dubai average around 26°C (79°F), and Shanghai stays around 15°C (58°F).

It rains a lot this time of the year in Shanghai. In April, Dubai usually receives less rain than Shanghai. Dubai gets 10 mm (0.4 in) of rain, while Shanghai receives 102 mm (4 in) of rain each month for the spring. The dry season in Dubai is June to August.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Dubai 26°C (79°F) 
    Shanghai 15°C (58°F)

Typical Weather for Shanghai and Dubai

Dubai Shanghai
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 19°C (66°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 4°C (39°F) 39 mm (1.5 in)
Feb 20°C (68°F) 40 mm (1.6 in) 5°C (41°F) 59 mm (2.3 in)
Mar 23°C (73°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 9°C (48°F) 82 mm (3.2 in)
Apr 26°C (79°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 15°C (58°F) 102 mm (4 in)
May 31°C (88°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 20°C (67°F) 113 mm (4.5 in)
Jun 33°C (91°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 24°C (75°F) 152 mm (6 in)
Jul 35°C (95°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 28°C (83°F) 128 mm (5 in)
Aug 36°C (97°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 28°C (82°F) 133 mm (5.2 in)
Sep 33°C (91°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 24°C (75°F) 156 mm (6.1 in)
Oct 29°C (84°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 19°C (65°F) 61 mm (2.4 in)
Nov 25°C (77°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 13°C (55°F) 52 mm (2 in)
Dec 21°C (70°F) 20 mm (0.8 in) 7°C (44°F) 35 mm (1.4 in)


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Dubai vs. Shanghai Travel Comparison

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